Why You’re Missing Out on Hiring “A” Player Salespeople

Hire the Best - Use for Web applications, emails, etcEveryone tells me they want to hire “A” Players and at the same time they are ill-equipped to do so.

First let me define “A” Players .They are typically only the top 6% of the sales population.* Below are some defining characteristics of “A” Players:

  • Head down focused on driving results
  • Not looking for a job or, at best, passively looking
  • Has a track record of success and not just during good times
  • Committed to success in their sales career
  • Have the desire to be successful in their sales career

This list would also include attributes like; they do whatever it takes, keep score themselves, hate to lose, etc.—but that is for another article.

What prevents most people from hiring “A” Players are the first three on the list!

Here’s why.

A head down, focused, performer is just that. They are not looking for their next job because they believe that if they ever needed to get one, they could! So, new career opportunities are not on their radar screen until they want them to be

In order to reach these people, you need to proactively engage them in a conversation about what THEIR career aspirations are—NOT a dialogue about your job opportunity. Recently I interviewed a gentleman who had interviewed at two placement firms prior to our meeting. At the end of our conversation I asked; “Why are you talking to us? Why not work with one of the other firms you met with?” He stated; “Because you asked what I wanted. The other two recruiters wanted to make sure my resume was updated and when I could go on interviews this week. They did not ask or know what I was looking for in my career.”

Like these other recruiters, you won’t get a look at “A” Players if you are only focused on filling your position rather than focusing on the candidates’ career objectives.

Are you “A” player focused or “fill a job” focused? Read the last job opportunity you posted. There’s a good chance it is all about how great your company is or what is required to do the job. It probably contains nothing that would catch the interest of “A” Players.

Moving “A” Players from “Not Looking” to “Interested”

Everybody has a vision of what ideal is: the ideal home, the ideal vacation, the ideal spouse, and the ideal job.

top-performer1-300x203First you have to find people who look like “A” Players. Do you have that documented somewhere? In our company, every search assignment has a checklist of “A” Player attributes that every candidate is measured against for each assignment. This checklist is developed from the Ideal Candidate Search Criteria meeting we conduct with each client. What about you, what is on your checklist?

Once we find candidates, we engage them in a conversation about their ideal career path. Where do they see themselves going? ‘B’ and ‘C’ players do not know. “A” Players know what they want; they just haven’t had a reason to start looking.

But once we break that seal on what is ideal for them, they move from being a passive candidate to an interested candidate to a candidate that will move in 30 to 120 days.

Your Hiring Process vs. “A” Players’ Evaluation Process

Once we create dissatisfaction from where they currently are to what is ideal, they will move! That creates the next challenge. Does your hiring process accommodate fast tracking “A” Players? Based on my experience working with hundreds of companies over the last 30 years, I would say probably not.

Most companies’ hiring processes attract mediocre players. Their process needs to be slower in order to screen them out. The “A” Players are decisive. ‘B’ and ‘C’ players will wait and tolerate your process in hopes of making it through.

We had a client lose out on an “A” Player because we pried them lose and then 30 days went by before our client cleared his calendar to schedule an interview. When we called our candidate to tell him the good news, he told us he had literally accepted an offer from another company an hour prior to our call.

Somebody else found him, asked for his resume on a Friday, interviewed him on Monday, flew him to meet with the company President on Wednesday, the President extended an offer in that meeting, put the offer in writing to him the following Monday, and he accepted on Tuesday—the day of our call. This is a great example of a company fast tracking an “A” Player candidate through their hiring process!

Keep in mind; we had stayed in touch with the candidate and client weekly trying to get the client to free up his calendar. Ultimately, the candidate told us the reason he accepted the offer from the other company was that he did not believe our client was serious about hiring someone.

You probably know what an “A” Customer prospect looks like. When you run across those, don’t you speed up your selling process to insure getting the deal? What does an ‘A’ candidate look like in your world or are you still processing them like ‘C’ players?

*SOURCE: Objective Management Group review of 400,000 sales and sales managers assessments 2009

For more information on Hiring “A” Players, listen to the following podcast:


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